Over the years, p53 has been shown to sit at the centre of an increasingly complex web of incoming stress signals and outgoing effector pathways. The number and diversity of stress signals that lead to p53 activation illustrates the breadth of p53's remit - responding to a wide variety of potentially oncogenic insults to prevent tumour development. Interestingly, different stress signals can use different and independent pathways to activate p53, and there is some evidence that different stress signals can mediate different responses. How each of the responses to p53 contributes to inhibition of malignant progression is beginning to be clarified, with the hope that identification of responses that are key to tumour suppression will allow a more focused and effective search for new therapeutic targets. In this review, we will highlight some recently identified roles for p53 in tumour suppression, and discuss some of the numerous mechanisms through which p53 can be regulated and activated.